By ninemsn staff and wires
Hong Kong crime figures have reportedly offered a $100,000 reward to anybody who hacks off the hand of the male star of the Hong Kong sex pictures scandal.
Edison Chen was supposed to return to Hong Kong last weekend to front a press conference about his role in the scandal, which has involved some of the former island colony's best known female film and pop stars.
But Singapore's online newssite Electric Newspaper
reports the 27-year-old singer-actor is instead laying low in the US city of Boston after hearing of the threats, which have reportedly come from a senior figure in the Triad crime organisation.
It is believed the gangster has a particular interest in one of the women involved in the scandal, as organised crime is widely believed to play a central role in the local film industry.
The threat which is reportedly backed by a HK$500,000 ($100,000) bounty is being taken so seriously that the landlords of the AIG building in Hong Kong's CBD allegedly withdrew their offer to host Chen's press conference.
Police are reportedly keeping the gangster under surveillance and Chen's representatives are organising 24-hour security for star, who was under suicide watch at one stage.
Meanwhile, a Taiwanese man has been arrested for allegedly distributing obscene photographs of Hong Kong celebrities that have attracted 140,000 Internet viewers, police here said.
Huang Wei-lun, 24, was suspected of posting explicit photos and videos in his blog featuring Hong Kong actor-singer Edison Chen and instructing net surfers how to download the images, the police said.
Huang, arrested at his parents' tool factory in Taipei county, admitted to downloading some 400 photos from a Chinese website and regretted spreading them, the local United Daily News said.
If convicted, he faces a maximum two-year prison term in addition to a fine of $1050.
"Posting and spreading obscene photos and videos is a criminal act and the police urge Internet users not to defy the law or satisfy their curiosity on other people's suffering," the Criminal Investigation Bureau said in a statement.
The photos of Chen with at least seven stars including Cantopop singer Gillian Chung, actress Cecilia Cheung and former actress Bobo Chan began appearing last month on the Internet.
Chen has been romantically linked to all three in the past: media reports say the photos were copied from Chen's computer when he sent it in for repairs.
Hong Kong police have made several arrests linked to the case, but have faced criticism that they have been over-zealous.
A charge against one Hong Kong man detained over the photos was dropped last week.